Friday, January 30, 2015

Barrel vs. Saguaro

Photos by Ned Harris 1/13/2015

When they are small, it's sometimes difficult to tell a barrel from a saguaro. Both have spines, both have pleats, both are green. What to do?

Fortunately, there's only one species of barrel cactus in Sabino, namely the Arizona Barrel Cactus (aka Fishhook, Candy, Southwestern) Ferocactus wislizenii. (There are other species of barrel cactus; just not in Sabino.) And, of course, there's only one species of  Saguaro (Carnegiea gigantea) on earth. We can look closely (but carefully) at these plants to figure out what's what.
The main spines of AZ barrels are curved at the end (like fishhooks) and look reddish. Saguaro spines, on the other hand (not in the other hand, I hope) are neither curved nor reddish. Now you know!

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